The Theoretical and Methodological Implications of Bisexuality in Language and Sexuality Research
Date: October 22, 2021
Location: SH 4430C/ PC Zoom Room
Speakers: Chloe Willis (UCSB)
Voices communicate not just what we say, but also who we are. The past three decades have seen an abundance of research on how sexuality is indexed through the voice. This work mostly focuses on stereotypes about sounding gay, especially as they relate to the pronunciation of /s/ and the “gay lisp” (e.g., Munson et al. 2006a,b; Campbell-Kibler 2011; Zimman 2017), whereas lesbian-sounding voices are less represented (e.g., Van Borsel et al. 2013; Barron-Lutzross 2015). Bisexuality is conspicuously absent in this literature. In this talk, I first overview my previous work on bisexuality and /s/ production, namely that bisexual women and men produce /s/ in a way that is distinct from their lesbian, gay, and straight counterparts (Willis 2021). Next, I present preliminary findings that directly expand upon this work. These findings suggest that ethnoracial identity—which is typically not considered or even reported in previous research—is a significant predictor for variation in /s/ production. Finally, I discuss the theoretical and methodological implications of these two analyses for the broader study of language and sexuality and identify how my current research addresses these issues.